Apple Would Rather Pay Up to €50 Million in Fines Than Address 'Gatekeeper' App Store Behavior, Says EU Chief

Apple would rather pay a maximum of €50 million in fines than address concerns brought forward by the Dutch competition authority regarding developer access to third-party payment methods on the App Store, the EU's head of digital policy, Margrethe Vestager, has said.

iOS App Store General Feature Dock 2
During a speech about the digital economy and privacy (via TechCrunch), Vestager said that Apple "essentially prefers paying periodic fines, rather than comply with a decision of the Dutch Competition Authority on the terms and conditions for third parties to access" the ‌App Store‌.

Effective enforcement, which includes the Commission having sufficient resources to do so, will be key to ensure compliance. Some gatekeepers may be tempted to play for time or try to circumvent the rules. Apple's conduct in the Netherlands these days may be an example. As we understand it, Apple essentially prefers paying periodic fines, rather than comply with a decision of the Dutch Competition Authority on the terms and conditions for third parties to access its App Store. And that will also be one of the obligations included in the DMA.

Last month, in compliance with a ruling from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), Apple announced it would allow dating apps on the Dutch ‌App Store‌ to use third-party payment methods for in-app purchases. In order to do so, developers are forced to keep two separate app binaries, one for their Dutch customers and another for customers elsewhere.

Additionally, Apple says it will collect a 27% commission on all purchases made with third-party payment methods, 3% less than the typical 30% cut the company takes when developers use the ‌App Store‌'s in-app purchase system. Apple's 27% commission is in addition to developers paying for a third-party payment processing platform, and any related charges of that process.

Shortly after Apple announced its plan, the authority said it would investigate the changes and determine whether or not Apple was abiding by the ruling.

The agency ultimately ruled that Apple's plans are not sufficient in addressing its concerns around the App Store. Consequently, the authority said it would fine Apple €5 million per week up to a maximum of €50 million until it complies. Apple has so far been fined five times, equating to a total of €25 million.

Apple has "refused to put forward any serious proposals," the ACM has said. The ACM added that Apple’s behavior is "regrettable" and it has "clearly explained to Apple how they can comply with ACM’s requirements." Apple's announced plans create "too many barriers for dating-app providers that wish to use their own payment systems," and it must "set reasonable conditions for the use of its services," the ACM continued.

Top Rated Comments

darkpaw Avatar
13 weeks ago
From what I can tell, Apple was told to allow alternate payment methods for dating apps in the Netherlands, right? That's what they're doing. The developer can choose which payment methods to use, and if they use a third-party one, then Apple charges them the standard 30% commission minus the 3% it looks like Apple pays for the payment processing.

If this is a wider issue about whether Apple should be allowed to charge 27% for everything it provides aside from payment processing, then was that part of the legal case? I don't know.

Is 27% too much for hosting apps, and supplying, maintaining and updating developer tools, macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS etc.? And the legal team they employ to make sure apps can be sold correctly in various countries? Again, I don't know. I know Apple do make a profit on the App Store, and I think they should be able to do so. That some developers and lawmakers think 30%/27% is too much is perhaps just a question of greed/fairness.

No one is telling Apple they can't make 40% profit margin on an iPhone.

I'm a developer, and I think the 30% is fine for what they provide me. YMMV.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
q64ceo Avatar
13 weeks ago
If it's cheaper to pay fines over obeying the law, a corporation will always go for the fines.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vipergts2207 Avatar
13 weeks ago
Apple's going to be paying out an awful lot in fines if this is the way they intend to go in future situations like this.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnipgnop Avatar
13 weeks ago
Multiple SKUs are a common practice in the hardware/software industry. It doesn't really make sense for the ACM to try and say that Apple giving developers the ability to have a separate SKU of their dating app with 3rd party payments isn't a serious proposal.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
13 weeks ago
All this fuss over a bunch of dating apps
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HiVolt Avatar
13 weeks ago
Monetary fines are chump change for Apple.

If the Dutch want to get serious, they can ban sales.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

app store blue banner russia

Apple Attempts to Stop Developers Promoting Alternative Payment Options for In-App Purchases in Russia

Monday December 6, 2021 4:37 am PST by
Apple is undertaking legal action in Russia to prevent developers from promoting alternative payment methods for in-app purchases that bypass the company's payment system, RT reports. Apple's lawsuit attempts to challenge Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) and the request it made to the company in August to "stop abuse in the market." The FAS's request would allow developers to...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Dutch Regulators to Meet With Dating App Providers to Assess Apple's Plan for Alternate In-App Payment Options

Monday January 17, 2022 9:55 am PST by
The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Netherlands plans to assess Apple's announced plans for allowing dating apps on the App Store in the country to use third-party payment methods, ensuring those plans "meet the requirements" of a previous ruling. Over the weekend, Apple announced that it would exclusively allow dating apps on the App Store in the Netherlands to use...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock

Indie Developer Dogged By Scammy Clone Apps Again Highlights the Holes in Apple's App Store Review Process

Monday February 21, 2022 9:29 am PST by
Apps that copy concepts and features from other apps are nothing new in the ‌App Store‌, but scammy like-for-like clones of genuine apps remain a perennial problem that Apple still hasn't resolved, as indie developer Kevin Archer recently discovered. Archer is responsible for 2Stable's Authenticator App, a feature-rich app that stores and generates secure two-factor authentication tokens...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Dutch Regulator Says Apple Shouldn't Force Dating Apps to Offer Separate App for Alternative Payments

Monday February 14, 2022 9:02 am PST by
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) today fined Apple an additional five million euros for allegedly failing to satisfy the requirements it set regarding alternative payment systems for dating apps. This is the fourth consecutive week that the ACM has fined Apple, with the total penalty now standing at 20 million euros. In a press release, the ACM said that Apple's...
Mac App Store General Feature

Apple Must Let Dating Apps Offer Alternative Payment Methods in App Store, Dutch Regulator Says

Friday December 24, 2021 9:10 am PST by
Apple must let dating apps like Tinder and Match offer payment methods other than Apple's in-app purchase system in the App Store in the Netherlands, or else it will face fines, the Dutch competition regulator announced today. Specifically, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) said Apple will have to pay a penalty of five million euros per week, up to a maximum of 50 million euros,...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock 2

Apple Defends App Store Changes in the Netherlands as Fines Reach €30 Million

Monday February 28, 2022 9:32 am PST by
Amid an ongoing dispute with the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Netherlands over the App Store, Apple has defended its plan to require app developers to submit an additional app binary for the Dutch storefront if they wish to use a third-party payment processing method. The ACM has ruled that Apple must allow dating apps in the Netherlands to use third-party payment...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Apple to Collect 27% Commission on Third-Party App Payment Systems in the Netherlands

Friday February 4, 2022 3:16 am PST by
Apple says it will take 27% commission on purchases made in dating apps through third-party payment options in the Netherlands, in compliance with a Dutch regulatory ruling. In an update on its developer support site, Apple said it would collect 27% commission instead of its usual 30% on transactions made in dating apps that use alternative payment methods. Apple says the decreased...
apple privacy

Apple Fined $11 Million in Italy for Employing 'Aggressive Methods' in Commercial Use of Private Data

Friday November 26, 2021 2:16 am PST by
Apple and Google were today fined 10 million euros ($11 million) by Italy's Competition Authority for allegedly using user data for commercial purposes without their explicit consent, an apparent violation of Italy's Consumer Code. The authority claims that both Apple and Google utilize user data they collect through their services for promotional and economic activity without the user's...

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro Renders Highlight Multiple Design Changes

Wednesday May 25, 2022 8:56 am PDT by
Leaker Jon Prosser today shared ostensibly accurate renders of the iPhone 14 Pro, providing the most accurate look yet at what the device could look like when it launches later this year. In the latest video on YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser revealed renders of the iPhone 14 Pro made by Apple concept graphic designer Ian Zelbo, highlighting a range of specific design changes...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
iPad Pro USB C Feature Coral

Deals: Apple's iPad Pro Reaches Up to $449 Off in Amazon's Latest Sales

Wednesday May 25, 2022 10:09 am PDT by
Amazon is marking down a wide variety of 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models this week, with prices starting as low as $749.00 for the 11-inch tablet. You'll find the full list of sales below, all of which can be found on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep...
apple account card

Wallet App Now Supports Apple Account Cards on iOS 15.5

Wednesday May 25, 2022 5:01 pm PDT by
Apple appears to have recently updated the Wallet app to allow users to add an Apple Account Card, which displays the Apple credit balance associated with an Apple ID. If you receive an App Store or Apple Store gift card, for example, it is added to an Apple Account that was previously visible in the App Store and Apple Store apps. As of today, the Apple Account balance can also be added to...
Apple Tap to Pay iPhone

Apple Stores Rolling Out iPhone-to-iPhone Contactless Payments Starting Today

Wednesday May 25, 2022 6:54 am PDT by
Apple in February unveiled a new "Tap to Pay on iPhone" feature that will allow compatible iPhones to accept payments via Apple Pay, contactless credit and debit cards, and other digital wallets, with no additional hardware required. Apple began testing the feature at its Apple Park Visitor Center earlier this month, and now Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has tweeted that the feature will begin...
apple wwdc 2022

Apple Shares WWDC 2022 Schedule, Keynote to Take Place June 6 at 10:00 a.m PT

Tuesday May 24, 2022 9:06 am PDT by
Apple today confirmed that the keynote event for the Worldwide Developers Conference will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on June 6, the first day of WWDC. The keynote will be an online-only event, though a select number of developers have been invited to the Apple Park campus for a viewing event. In addition to confirming the keynote date and time, Apple has shared the full WWDC 2022...